Dried wild lobster mushrooms are a reddish-orange spotted and mottled mushroom that grows in many forests, especially throughout hemlock groves. The texture of the mushroom is granular, brittle and dense while the its layered flavors are enhanced by a malicious fungal hitchhiker. This parasite is also the reason behind the lobster’s vibrant orange color and full-bodied flavor that strongly resembles seafood and, of course, lobsters.
Other Name: Hypomyces lactifluorum
Origin: Pacific Northwest, USA
Shelf Life: Dried wild lobster mushrooms are best when used within a year.
Nutritional Facts: 50 grams (about 2 cups) of reconstituted dried wild lobster mushrooms contain 160 calories, 32% of the RDA* of iron, 16% of the RDA of calcium, 8% of the RDA of carbs and dietary fiber, and 4% of the RDA of protein. Many people do not get enough iron in their diets, leading them to not have enough oxygen-bearing red blood cells. By incorporating iron-rich foods like lobster mushrooms into your diet, you can avoid the tiredness and irritability that comes with oxygen deprivation.
Scientific Facts: The wild lobster mushroom is actually a mushroom being covered by a parasitic fungus. The parasite, Hypomyces lactifluorum, attacks a host mushroom, usually a milk cap or brittlegill mushroom, turning it orange, brittle, twisted, and virtually unrecognizable. This makes it impossible for the host mushroom to do anything but feed the parasite and spread its spores. Thankfully for us, the parasite is completely safe for human consumption and only adds more layers and depth of flavor to the host mushroom.
Tips: Hydrate dried wild lobster mushrooms by soaking them in warm water for an hour. They can then be prepared in the same way fresh lobster mushrooms are. Lobster mushrooms are often paired with seafood or substituted for lobster to make a normally meaty dish vegetarian. They particularly pair well with milk and/or eggs. Dried lobster mushrooms may also be mixed directly into simmering chowders and stews.
Read more about wild lobster mushrooms here!